• Kyodo News

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The number of labor disputes involving individual workers and their employers across Japan hit an all-time high of about 187,000 during fiscal 2006, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said in a recent report.

The figure represents a 6 percent increase from the previous high of about 176,000 marked in fiscal 2005.

Disputes involving dismissals accounted for the biggest component of the fiscal 2006 total, at 24 percent, followed by deterioration in working conditions at 13 percent and bullying or harassment cases at 10 percent.

Of the total, about 7,000 were referred to dispute-settlement panels at the ministry’s labor bureaus nationwide. Full-time workers accounted for 59 percent of the applicants for mediation, followed by part-timers and nonregular workers at 19 percent. Of the 7,000 cases referred to the panels, 40 percent were resolved through an agreement to return to work or a settlement payment.

However, mediation efforts were abandoned in 53 percent of the cases mainly because employers refused to negotiate.

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